Fluid-Mineral Relations in the Comstock Lode, Storey, Washoe, and Lyon Counties, Nevada, U.S.A.

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 4
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1987
The Comstock Lode, a world-class precious metal vein district near Virginia City in western Nevada, U.S.A. (Fig. 1), produced 8.3 million ounces (0.28 X 106 kg) of gold and 193 million ounces (6.56 X 106 kg) of silver during the period 1859 to present (Bonham and Papke, 1969). More than 95% of production was from the Comstock fault, while the adjacent Silver City, Occidental and Flowery vein systems produced about $10 million (U.S.). Within the Comstock fault high-grade ore bodies, or bonanzas, were distributed over 2.3 miles (3.8 km) along strike and persisted to >3000 feet (>900 m) below the surface (Fig. 2). Bonanzas consisted of as much as 1.4 million tons (1.3 million tonnes) of ore grading up to 1.9 oz./ton (65 gm/ton) Au and 30 oz./ton (1020 gm/ton) Ag (Table 1). Some bonanzas occurred in the main Comstock fault plane while others, including the highest grade bonanzas, formed in hangingwall frac- tures. After 1880 most ore consisted of lower-grade vein material surrounding mined- out bonanzas and large volumes of mineralized vein and wall rock in the Comstock hanging- wall that were mined from open cuts. Deep mining was hindered by large quantities of hot water and bad ground which ultimately defined the limits of underground production. The widths and richness of Comstock bonanzas strongly influenced U.S. mining law, milling and underground mining methods, and securi- ties regulations that are in practice today. Within the district Mesozoic metasedimentary rocks, metavolcanic rocks, and granitic in- trusions are overlain by Miocene volcanic rocks (Thompson and White, 1964). Veins cut all lithologies. Miocene volcanic rocks and their K-Ar ages (Vikre, McKee and Silberman, 1987) include Santiago Canyon rhyolite (22
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